Malachi may be associated with the jackal, which features early in his book, for God had left Edom to jackals, yet now God’s own people were acting like jackals.

Malachi had now delivered four of his six oracles

Oracle 1God chose the Hebrew people as God’s own. (1:2-5)

Oracle 2Blemished sacrifices were polluting God’s table. (1:6-2:9)

Oracle 3Marital infidelity illustrated Judah’s unfaithfulness to God. (2:10-16)

Oracle 4Divorce illustrated Judah’s unfaithfulness to God. (2:17-3:6)

Malachi now addressed the question left hanging in the fourth, “Where is the God of justice?”

Where is the God of Justice?

Few of us have escaped the pain of injustice in our lives. Every child I have ever met can tell me about something they feel is unfair—and they are right! One of our early lessons in life is that life actually is unfair. Small mistakes can launch lasting and awful consequences, whereas great crimes can go unpunished. People get taken advantage of, predators find hapless prey and victimize them, wrongs go without being righted, and justice can seem elusive indeed for those forced to exist on the fringes of society.

For the people of Judah, struggling so hard to eke out a living, making do as best they could, surrounded by hostile nations, trying to make sense of their hardships when they had expected blessings, the current circumstances must have felt terribly unjust. Their understanding of scripture seemed to indicate a quid pro quo relationship with God. If they followed the commandments, God would enrich them . . . but it was not working out that way. Wearily, they may have wondered where is the God of Justice?

For the women of other faiths who had married these returning Jewish exiles, who had begun families with them, and had failed to put their faith in God, Malachi’s oracle, and Ezra and Nehemiah’s reforms must have felt harsh and cruel—and their husbands must have been equally crushed by the loss of their wives and families.

Where is the God of Justice? They might have cried.

And again, those women who had experienced faithlessness, abuse, and even violence from their spouses, only to find themselves divorced may also have cried out, Where is the God of Justice?

Mercy Overcomes Justice

But God’s next word to the people was a prophecy of mercy, not justice.

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 3:1 (NRSV)

You and I immediately recognize this as a prophetic reference to John the Baptist.

John the Baptist by Titian | By Web Gallery of Art, Public Domain,

And the ancients also understood this as a Messianic promise, but they did not fully understand how it would be fulfilled. They thought Messiah would appear magically, perhaps descending from the heavens to settle as God’s Shekinah of old in the temple courts.  

When Jesus endured forty days of fasting and testing in the wilderness (symbolic of the Hebrews’ Exodus), Satan tempted Christ with an allusion to fulfilling this popular prediction.

The devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple,  saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
    and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

Satan quoting Psalm 91:11-12, Matthew 4:5-6 (NRSV)

The temple was on top of Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Most commentators think the devil took Jesus to the top of the temple’s main tower, overlooking the temple court with a one hundred and eighty foot drop, where every morning a priest would blow the trumpet to greet the dawn. 

Many of the scholars and teachers of that day expected something very like what Satan was suggesting. The devil insinuated that if Jesus would just do this, those faithful who studied the scriptures would see the Messiah coming in a miraculous way, lifted up by the angels, and they would all believe in Jesus.  

Temptation of Christ (mosaic in basilica di San Marco) | By anonimus –, Public Domain,

In fact, Jesus did fulfill Malachi’s prophecy, just in a very unexpected and startling way—He suddenly appeared in the Court of the Gentiles, overturning the tables of the money-changers, and freeing the animals being sold as sacrifices!

Just Judgment

The Lord’s answer to the cry for justice begins with Messiah, but God’s answer continues with the promise to return and bring just judgment. However, God will begin with God’s own people.

But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.

. . . Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness . . .

Malachi 3:2-3, 5 (NRSV)

The apostle Peter referred to this answer from God when he wrote,

Glorify God because you bear this name.  For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  And

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
    what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?”

Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.

1 Peter 4:16-19 (NRSV)

Peter pointed out a basic connection between suffering and spiritual growth, and God’s grace and provision as a caring and faithful Creator.

God is the Judge of all people, but the Lord is not eager to bring about condemnation and punishment. Rather, since before even the foundation of the earth was laid, God has determined to bring about redemption and restoration.

One of the earliest revelations of God is as compassionate, long‑suffering, and forgiving. God is not distant, but so close the Lord lives within the inner being of every believer. God is so intimately involved in our lives that the Lord experiences everything with us, and is available to us at all times, in all places, under every condition.

Peter paraphrased a Proverb to make his point, writing If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?

If the righteous are repaid on earth,
    how much more the wicked and the sinner!

Proverbs 11:31 (NRSV)

That word hard does not mean that it is hard for God to save the righteous, or that it is hard for the righteous to save themselves. It is well within God’s power to save us and it is impossible for you and I to save ourselves!

Peter was saying this process of being purified is hard on those who have already put their faith in God, love and revere God, seek to live by God’s words, will, and ways, and welcome the chance to live in the Spirit of Christ, even to the point of having fellowship in Christ’s suffering. So, if it is hard on Christians, then think how infinitely more awful it is to endure God’s righteous judgment on those who refuse to humble themselves to God.

The writer of Hebrews exhorted believers to be encouraged not to lose heart at God’s rebuke, but to understand the Lord disciplines those whom God loves. God does allow us to suffer, God even at times brings hardship into our lives – because the Lord loves us.

Because God cares about us.

Because God is committed to us, God disciplines, or rather trains, us for our good, so you and I can be holy in the way God is holy.

Where is the God of Justice? God does promise to right all wrongs one day, but that will be a great and terrible day. Meanwhile, we take heart in knowing

The path of suffering, both for Jesus and for his followers, will end in glory

Those who have put their faith in Christ understand that through this process we will always experience spiritual growth.

James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Jesus Ministered to by Angels (Jésus assisté par les anges), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 6 11/16 x 9 3/4 in. (17 x 24.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.54 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.54_PS1.jpg)

8 thoughts on “Minor Prophets: Malachi, Where is the God of Justice?

  1. Oh how I have learned this to be so true!

    “Because God is committed to us, God disciplines, or rather trains, us for our good, so you and I can be holy in the way God is holy.”

    “The path of suffering, both for Jesus and for his followers, will end in glory.”

    Following Christ on the path to everlasting life is spiritual growth and a purification process as I understand, which is the only way to reach and behold God’s glory; anything else would not produce the fruit of being born again in the light and truth of God without defect or blame Jesus is the only template or perfect example to emulate, but the process is the only way to become individual children of God!

    Anything less would be imperfect and a cheap facsimile or automatons.

    1. Yes, Brother in Christ Lawrence, without that new birth from above, and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, it would be an impossible task, but with God’s divine enabling, we can be made mature, endure the suffering, persevere through the hardships, just as the Apostle Paul described. Grace and peace

      1. Absolutely rings of God’s Truth in my heart and soul reading what you expressed so beautifully here with factual Scriptural references and your own inspired heartfelt words! I was just reflecting on my own failures and sins today and have a question to pose. As a Catholic I’ve understood repentance as, the sincere solemn confession of sins with then the act of doing penance, and to then complete this repentance by receiving the consecrated Eucharist from the ordained priest which is taking the body and blood of the one Holy sacrificial “Lamb of God Jesus Christ” in order that the sins are washed away or the soul is then cleansed in a sense by the shed blood of our Savior in His greatest act ever in human existence, the taking of those sins away by paying the ransom in full. But, as we still live here in the fallen flesh even with a renewed or restored soul; and as a former co-worker some years back who studied to become a priest said to me; “that once we confess our sins to God through Jesus and are forgiven of them we should not bring them up again because if we truly believe then we trust they are gone.” The problem is carrying on living in this fallen state it isn’t simple for some people to forget or totally feel guilt free and some sins actually make God angry such as these mentioned in the following Scripture.

        Galatians 5:19–21 — The New International Version (NIV)
        “19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

        Psalm 7:11 — The New International Version (NIV)
        “11 God is a righteous judge,
        a God who displays his wrath every day.”

        I bring this up because say for example a person has been an alcoholic since their youth and into middle age always just fooling himself that this is just another somewhat acceptable socially acceptable behavior and that he also enjoys it, the feeling or sensation from the drug or poison of choice which could also be sex or pornography which is totally rampant in modern culture and with the internet so easy to partake of; especially if done privately and nobody is the wiser of this sinner carrying on sinfully. It seems that since the tolerance of these things by society which once considered say sodomy a crime by law now sees nothing wrong with all these many perversions of what God created men and women for; and that anything goes is the main feature of the time now, as long as it feels good and people consent to do whatever! So now witchcraft or Satanism is even acceptable according to some public school boards for the youth to participate in after-school activity sessions or clubs of this kind!

        My point is how in such a radical and insane ugly world can an individual not slip more often than not or fail at some point and certainly not live very righteously when surrounded with all of this debauchery or even treachery abounding; this seems to be so far beyond being put to the test in this upside-down civilization now, which must be exponentially worse than Sodom and Gomorrah; that I admit even myself having sinned or been too weak at moments giving into temptation throughout my life or especially in recent years after some horrible trials being so stressed and dam aged by society or certain highly corrupted individuals that attacked me say like a PTSD reflex generated by an ugly destructive world that seems to hate the righteous with a passion to then in this world losing my temper and flipping my lid at the such an out of control world or certain groups of people; especially political leaders who lie continually and ruin this world without batting an eyelash, I’m almost driven mad watching them! I can even add here that I ran into a woman a while ago who has a considerable following but who I immediately saw into her MO or a personality along with her tact I decided was not anyone I should interact with so I no sooner met her and decided to block her. Then she a grown supposedly mature woman went to battle mode with her twisted heart and soul and began a campaign to needle, and trolls me injecting herself into some of my key followers or even new contacts to irritate me so that I would leave those people and exclude them too; like some evil minded woman scorned lunatic! That can only be evil that would cause such a person to behave in that fashion and my point is this is rampant all around us, these wicked minded and sick natured people that are just nuts or very likely demonically influenced! But I do fault myself for being angry and swearing or giving into my own past vices occasionally so how can I be truly forgiven by God Almighty until I die and He actually does wipe it all away or sends me to hell for screwing up one too many times? End Time would be this way where many would welcome death and I’m sorry I do see this world that whacked out now it’s gonzo!

        I’m sorry to do this to you, because you’re busy and this is a whole lot to put out especially all at once! But, I decided to include what I wrote yesterday to another posting which was similar in that I was cutting to the chase as to what and why I see so much wrong in this world now and how this fever pitch of debauchery or even treachery is adding up to only one thing in my eyes! Maybe I’m answering my own question but I do solemnly hope and pray that you can say something that will be the sign I need to see my way clear of the world’s guilt and most important my own!

        Luke 19:41–44 — The New International Version (NIV)
        41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

        But I think I see what you’re saying about the betrayal that took place in the Church and how when the hierarchy said a fat lie because “they followed the global elites telling us if we didn’t take the Vaccine it was our moral duty,” and I was and still am pissed about it! But I leave it to the Lord now because we have been forwarded in prophecy and the Fatima messages that this kind of corruption of even the Church would happen.

        This is a whole lot to review but I found that this reference puts it quite clearly some of the things that will point out the End Time.

        In the Last Days, the Church Will Be Full of False Believers

        “For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, opposed to what is good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, loving
        pleasure rather than loving God. They will maintain the outward appearance of religion but will have repudiated its power. So avoid people like these.”
        2 Timothy 3:2-5

        “Observation Question: What are characteristics of the people in the last days?
        As we continue to read Paul’s words, we find that the terrible times will not be bad because of difficult events but because of evil people. This is what will make these last days so terrible. There will be many in the church who profess Christianity but look nothing like their Lord and Savior. In verse 5, Paul says that they had an “outward appearance of religion” but “repudiated its power.” This means that they had the outer trappings of Christianity—they went to church, sang hymns, gave their tithes, went on mission trips—but lived ungodly lives that proved they had never experienced Christ’s saving power.

        This is exactly what Christ warned the disciples of in the parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13. Christ said the kingdom of heaven is tares and wheat (v. 36-43), and good and bad fish (v. 47-50)—essentially true and false believers. He also describes the kingdom as yeast hidden in flour, which spreads throughout the lump (v. 33). Yeast typically refers to false doctrine (Matt 16:11-12) or sin (1 Cor 5:6); therefore, Christ described how evil would spread and saturate the church at various stages of history. The current state of the kingdom is a mixture of good and evil. It is scary!

        This reality often leads to disillusionment and apostasy—Satan’s very intent in planting tares, bad fish, and leaven. No doubt, this is the reason that Paul warned Timothy. In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul gives nineteen negative characteristics of many professing believers during these difficult times:

        1. People will be lovers of themselves: This comes first because it is the dominant characteristic of the last days—leading to further sins. Satan tempted Eve to be like God in the garden. He called her to seek self-fulfillment instead of loving God and others first. From that point, that became the prominent motivation in humanity. Life is about us and our satisfaction. Religion simply becomes another addition to seek fulfillment. People ask, “Can Christianity help us be happy? Can it help our children not lie and steal? In that case, we should go to church!”
        2. In fact, much of the teaching in churches these days focuses on self-love. It has essentially become the greatest commandment. They say, “You can’t love God or others unless you love yourself first!” However, there is never a command in the Bible to love ourselves. The Bible assumes that we already do—it is a result of our sin nature. When Scripture says to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 12:31), it is simply recognizing that we already love ourselves way too much. Scripture continually calls us to humble ourselves (James 4:10), deny ourselves, take up our cross (Matt 16:24), and seek the interests of others over ourselves (Phil 2:3). However, since self has replaced God, it leads to many other sins.
        3. Lovers of money: Since the love of self is dominant, the love of money naturally follows. By pursuing money, we cater to all our desires. In fact, many will use religion to make money. First Timothy 6:5 says that many will think that “godliness is a way of making a profit.”
        4. Boastful: Those who love themselves will continually brag about themselves, their money, their education, their achievements, and even their faith. They will boast about their giving, their strong devotion, and even their “spiritual” experiences. The church will be full of braggarts.
        5. Arrogant: Pride is the internal motivation that leads people to brag. People will think higher of themselves than they should. They will have false pride about their race, their social class, their economic standing, and even their doctrine.
        6. Blasphemers: This word can be translated “abusive.” They will blaspheme others and God. When life is about self and people don’t get their way, they become angry and aggressive towards God and others. This abuse will be directed towards people of different ethnicities, social or economic standings, denominational affiliations, and even their own families. The church will be abusive instead of loving.
        7. Disobedient to their parents: Love of self naturally leads to disobeying parents in order to fulfill one’s desires. Disobedience to parents will ultimately lead to disobeying all authorities—teachers, work superiors, government, and God.
        8. Ungrateful: If something interrupts one’s pursuit of self-gratification, then he or she will complain and become angry. Instead of being worshipers, the church will be a group of ungrateful people that complain about anything that makes them uncomfortable—the worship music, the seating, the preaching, the children’s ministry, the church leadership, the national government, the education system, sports, and so on. Like Israel in the wilderness, they will be grumblers who are constantly disciplined by God (1 Cor 10:10).
        9. Unholy: Love of self leads people to not respect or fear God. Without a reverence for God, they will be led into all types of sins. Their thought life, conversations, entertainment, and actions will be unholy.
        10. Unloving: “Unloving” can also be translated “without natural affection” or “without family affection.” Parents will neglect their children, as they pursue money and self-fulfillment. Sometimes they will abort their children in order to cater to self. Children will hate their parents in response. There will be a lack of “natural affection” in the church. It will be shameful to hear stories about how believers neglect their children, spouses, and elderly parents—especially when church leaders do it!
        11. Irreconcilable: They won’t forgive others nor seek forgiveness from others. They are so prideful that they won’t humble themselves to seek reconciliation.
        12. Slanderers: This expression is from the word “diabolos” which can be translated “accuser” or “devil.” People will slander others with their words and slander God. The church will be full of gossip and back-biting. When self is on the throne, it naturally leads to pulling down others to exalt oneself.
        13. Without self-control: People will lack power to discipline themselves. They will be controlled by their delights and passions—overeating, oversleeping, video games, social media, shopping, drugs, cigarettes, pornography, etc. The church will be full of addicts of one thing or another. Satisfying self leads to uncontrollable urges.
        14. Savage: This can be translated “brutal,” “fierce,” or “untamed.” People will be like wild animals seeking to tear one another apart in order to gain or protect their desires.
        15. Opposed to what is good: They will love what should be hated, and hate what should be loved. Ungodly entertainment, ideologies, and endeavors, they will love. But the things of God—his Word, preaching, worship, serving, and righteousness—they will hate.
        16. Treacherous: They won’t keep their promises. The only commitment they will keep is their pursuit of happiness. Divorce, church splits, and church hopping will be common place.
        17. Reckless: People will do whatever they want without consideration of others. All that matters is self and self-expression. They will say things like, “I just had to be true to myself!”, as if that justifies any number of evils.
        18. Conceited: People will be full of their own exaggerated self-importance blinding them to others’ opinions and ultimately God’s Word. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
        19. Loving pleasure rather than loving God: Because they love pleasure instead of God, churches will be full of entertainment instead of true worship. Church services will be about pleasing people instead of pleasing God. People will plan worship primarily with the thought of getting and keeping people and their money instead of truly worshiping God.
        20. Maintain the outward appearance of religion but will have repudiated its power: Also, translated “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (NIV). Again, there will be form but no power to change lives.”

        “MacDonald said this about these people:
        Outwardly these people seem religious. They make a profession of Christianity, but their actions speak louder than their words. By their ungodly behavior, they show that they are living a lie. There is no evidence of the power of God in their lives. While there might have been reformation, there never was regeneration. Weymouth translates: “They will keep up a make-believe of piety and yet exclude its power.” Likewise Moffatt: “Though they keep up a form of religion, they will have nothing to do with it as a force.” Phillips puts it: “They will maintain a façade of ‘religion’ but their conduct will deny its validity.” They want to be religious and to have their sins at the same time (cf. Rev. 3:14–22). Hiebert warns: “It is the fearful portrayal of an apostate Christendom, a new paganism masquerading under the name of Christianity.”3

        “As we consider the characteristics of the church in the last days, there are many applications we can make.
        1. We must examine our salvation.
        Second Corinthians 13:5 says, “Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you—unless, indeed, you fail the test!” Christ said in the last days many will say to him, “Lord, Lord” but he will respond, “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity, I never knew you” (Matt 7:21-23). That type of false faith will be increasingly common in the church, as we get closer to Christ’s coming. It will be religion without relationship, form without power, a shell without life. We must test ourselves to see if we are saved.”

        “How do we know if we’re born again? Certainly, we must ask ourselves discerning questions such as: Are we demonstrating new life and new spiritual affections? Do we love God? Do we love his people? Do we love his Word? Are we obeying him? Are we decreasing in sin and growing in righteousness? Has our profession changed our life or is it just a profession? If our profession hasn’t changed our life, then maybe we just have the form of faith without its saving power in our lives.”
        “The book of 1 John is a book of many tests of salvation (cf. 1 John 5:13). First John 3:9-10 says,
        Everyone who has been fathered by God does not practice sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed: Everyone who does not practice righteousness—the one who does not love his fellow Christian—is not of God.
        A true believer will fail and fall into sin, but he will not practice a lifestyle of unrepentant sin; the general direction of his life is very different from the world. A true believer practices righteousness and loves God’s people.
        Do you bear the marks of true salvation?”

        2. We must make sure that Christ is still our first love.
        “The root problem of the end-time church is self-love. They love themselves more than God, which results in many other sins—love of money, love of pleasure, lack of family love, pride, abusiveness, etc. This can happen to us as well if we don’t love God first. In Revelation 2:4-5, Christ rebuked the church of Ephesus for this sin. He said,
        But I have this against you: You have departed from your first love! Therefore, remember from what high state you have fallen and repent! Do the deeds you did at the first; if not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—that is, if you do not repent.
        Christ promised them judgment if they didn’t repent for their lack of love for God. No doubt, this lack of love was causing other sins in their lives, as it does with ours. If we’ve lost it, we must repent and turn back to God. We must put him first as an act of love and obedience. As we love God first, we will love others and grow in righteousness.
        Is Christ still your first love? If not, what is taking first place in your life?”

        3. We must test everything through Scripture—miracles, teaching, etc.
        “Like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, we must test everything through Scripture to see if it’s of God: Is the Bible being preached or is Scripture simply a launching point for worldly anecdotes? Are my experiences biblical or just something that feels good? The Word of God equips the man of God for “every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). If it doesn’t pass the biblical test, it should be discarded. If we hold onto Scripture, we’ll be kept from the waves of false doctrine and lying miracles in the church.”

        4. We must understand our call to persevere in, to love, and to minister to the church.
        “Many have given up on the church because they have experienced hurt, betrayal, and abuse during these terrible times. However, Christ said the gates of Hades will not prevail against the church (Matt 16:18)—Satan’s works will not ultimately prevail against her. Also, Christ loved the church and gave his life for her—knowing her imperfections (Eph 5:25-27). We must love her as well and be faithful to her, even when she is unfaithful. In this season, there are tares, bad fish, and leaven within her, but God will ultimately purify and restore her. And in this season, we are part of that restoration. We must persevere in, love, and minister to the church, even as our Lord does.
        Do you still love her? Are you faithfully ministering to her? Or are you disillusioned and fed-up with her?
        Application Question: What other applications can we take from the reality that terrible seasons will plague the end-time church? How will you apply these truths to your life?”

        What are characteristics of the church in the last days?
        1. In the Last Days, the Church Will Be Full of False Believers
        2. In the Last Days, the Church Will Be Full of False Teachers
        Copyright © 2017, 2018 (2nd Edition) Gregory Brown

        I know this is so much so if it takes a while to respond I totally understand and thank you in advance my Sister for your consideration!
        God bless you and yours!
        Your brother in Christ Jesus,

      2. Brother in Christ, Lawrence, you are a prolific writer! over 3,700 words, which many people find hard to do. That is a gift, to sustain a thought and to write about it.

        You bring up a topic I have spent quite some time thinking about–penance and repentance. I see a nuance, here, where the Lord begins to work within us for that profound change we long for. Penance marks our sorrow over sin, our acknowledgement of it, and our sincere desire to be both forgiven and cleansed. Sometimes, as a part of our desire to show God our sincere and true sorrow, we might do something in particular, acts of penance, as you say. Then we receive God’s cleansing, forgiveness, and reassurance,

        I see repentance including one more step, and that is to turn away from that sin, or that source of sin, and to turn toward whatever healthful thing the Lord has for us, to replace or refill where that sin was. This is in keeping with Jesus saying “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.” (Matthew 12:43-45) If we replace “unclean spirit” with “unclean habit” or “sin,” the result is largely the same. In order to be truly rid of it, we must make sure the house has been filled with another kind of spirit, the Holy Spirit, and the character and habits of the Holy Spirit.

        This is one reason why it can be so hard to shake what some call a “besetting sin.” Because though we are sincerely sorry for it, and gratefully receive the Lord’s cleansing and forgiveness time and again, we have not filled the house with something better, so there is room for that besetting sin, or unclean habit to return.

        I agree with your priest. Once a sin is forgiven, it is over with. It is right to move on from the guilt of it. Still, there can be the aftermath of pain and harm, and it is right to go through the process of recovery from those things, and to make restitution where we can.

        We do live–we in the west–in cultures that are increasingly more accepting of what used to be forbidden. As Christians how can we offer health and healing where people feel hurt and sick? That would be my first impulse. Someone who is trapped in a lifestyle that is harming them needs a rescuer more than a judge. Judgement will come soon enough, so we who have the Spirit of Christ can come to such a person in the same way Christ came, who said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17).

        You do talk about your own suffering from those who have attacked you, and from those who have tried to ruin you. These are bona fide traumatic experiences, and the harm from these attacks can last years, as am sure you are already experiencing. My father once told me that leaders are the ones whose heads rise above the rest, making their necks an easy target! With the great deal of writing you do, it is no surprise some have tried to take off your head. I am so sorry these things have happened to you. I so hope you have seen God close to you, with you as your vanguard.

        You also talk about heaven and hell, and I must confess I am not as educated as I would like to be on the Catholic understanding of heaven and hell, I don’t know the Catholic catechism. It is my understanding from the Christian Testament that those who have out their faith in Jesus and have received His Spirit are permanently sealed, as Paul told us, “In him [Christ] you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14) No matter how far or how often we slip, we are in the grip of the Savior, and He will never let us go. I believe that from what Jesus said about His own, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (John 10:28-30)

        The greatest part of your post talks about the last days, about apostasy in the church and false Christians, and the marks of a false Christian. Jesus, Paul, Peter, the writer of Hebrews, and John all spoke of these things, and warned of them. Through the two thousand years since the Christian Testament was written, we have seen eras when the church was riddled with corruption, when there was truly only a remnant of those keeping the true faith, and we have also seen the Lord come in power time and again to revitalize the church. This will keep happening until that Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. Knowing this, we need not panic, for God has this all in hand.

        In fact, you bring up the parable of the tares, and it is right for us to remember what the Lord Himself said of them, “The slaves said to him [the master], ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them [tares]?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:28-30) This has been my approach from the beginning. It is God’s work to know and to deal with those who are tares, sown by the enemy. It is our work, as believers and servants of the king, to tend the whole field equally, knowing that the roots of the wheat and tares are interwoven. It would be disastrously harmful to the wheat to try and pull up the tares.

        Therefore, we teach truth, we offer grace and kindness, and we love (as best we can) those whom God has put in our lives. Sometimes, as you discovered, we need to remove from our lives–or at least from our space–those who are actively seeking to harm us, for the sake of survival. But even then, as you saw, great harm can come.

        You have a long list of character traits, twenty in all, of those who seem to be spiritual but in fact are not. It can be easy to see these traits played out in others’ lives. The much harder work is to recognize them in our own! I think Paul gave us these lists not so we could root out falsity in others so much as to be vigilant about these traits cropping up in our own lives. And yes, to be careful about not receiving the teaching and guidance from those whose lives do not reflect a life lived by heavenly wisdom. You rightly point this out when you quote 2 Corinthians 13:5.

        You have some good self-evaluation questions about practicing righteousness, loving Jesus, testing everything in the light of Scripture, and ministering to the church (which is to say, the Body of Christ). The whole of my work and ministry, here on this blog, is to support the love of God and Christ, to live by the words and Word of God, to be filled with and walk in the Holy Spirit, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

        Grace and peace to you, the shalom of our heavenly Father, Who grants us life, Joanne

      3. Sister in Christ Joanne! First, thank you for such a beautifully thought-out sincere and deeply meaningful response to my previous dissertation!

        I appreciate that you see my long drawn out writings as a positive and you’re the first to have ever explained it that way! But, very inspiring was also this immediate comment of yours!

        “You bring up a topic I have spent quite some time thinking about–penance and repentance.”

        I’m reading this or believing that it was meant to be as you had done such serious thinking about this very topic that I’ve been wrestling with lately!

        Then this comment ties into directly with some thinking I just had after watching an old film starring John Wayne!

        Angel and the Badman
        Angel and the Badman is a 1947 American Western film written and directed by James Edward Grant and starring John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey and Bruce Cabot. The film is about an injured gunfighter who is nursed back to health by a Quaker girl and her family whose way of life influences him and his violent ways.Wikipedia
        Director:James Edward Grant
        Produced by:John Wayne
        Writer(s):James Edward Grant

        What a neat old classic movie and it made me cry a few times as I watched it! The Quaker girl Penelope is that filling in where the bad was in this story, her love for Quirt Evans who had a tough life as a baby boy losing his parents to an Indian raid and then being brought up by a range man who found him. This led to Quirt growing up in tough circumstances and becoming a fast draw gunslinger out of necessity in the Wild West, he even got into some cattle rustling or robbery; sort of a tumbling weed of a man for a stretch! I love the movie, and will watch it again soon and I recommend it to anyone who likes a good story and older genre classics with real actors or people that were noteworthy for the right reasons back in the day! But especially because this subject we are discussing, which is the internal conflict of the main character in a tough world having been dealt the cards or circumstances he was born into, then an Opportunity as I see it comes along to offer him that, what you pointed out, “the Lord begins to work within us for that profound change we long for.” That’s exactly our reason for our faith and following Jesus Christ, to be “forgiven and cleansed!” And then what you said about, “one more step, being to turn away from sin or the circumstance or situation that provides temptation to sin again.” That is in this movie too, how this life of a basically good hearted man who has had to deal with a rough time that did shape his life in a negative way, like a tumble weed as I see it, tossing around whichever way the wind blows; a wild seed, who is transformed in the end by a transplanting of this character from one lifestyle out on the range, to one of being a farmer gaining a very structured life with a wonderful sweet Christian woman, his new to be wife, marrying her as the story closes, which is the great opportunity he needed to change everything for the better! Because eventually he may have died in a gunfight or gotten entangled with the law as the Federal Marshal played by Harry Carey points out; at the end of the story in the ending shot the Marshal is happy too about Quirt, actually tossing away his gun and changing to the life of a Quaker, and it’s a powerful ending for God, a message of hope! I see how Quirt was put to the test too, in the ending of the story tossing his gun aside for his sweetheart, as she tried to show and emphasize to him the non-violence ways of the Quakers is the right thing to do. But when he did while with her, he was made vulnerable and could have died when the rival outlaws with a vendetta want him dead, and here we see a true testing of faith in the Lord, I shiver, because the story masterfully carried this out accomplishing so much in a short sequence of shots telling the story so well, with pictures and situation; revealing the characters and their struggles, the triumph is so sweet too!

        Here is the original trailer for the movie that in the first couple of minutes establishes the tone and character conflict of the protagonist but the immediate set-up of what is to come, as I mentioned how the story ends so well because of this wonderful Christian lady and her family; that God made sure these two main characters who came from much different mindsets of how to survive meet; and then the story unfolds. My Sister in Christ Joanne this sentence makes me want to watch the movie again for sure tomorrow!

        “Result is largely the same. In order to be truly rid of it, we must make sure the house has been filled with another kind of spirit, the Holy Spirit, and the character and habits of the Holy Spirit.”

        That is exactly what happens in this great story!

        This is so absolutely important to focus on too. “We do live–we in the west–in cultures that are increasingly more accepting of what used to be forbidden.”
        We live in such a permissive decadent and over the top actually, do your thing society, where it’s even so bad that people now afflicted with what my grandmother used to say way back when I was a kid; “No Shame,” and today its exponentially worse and out of control. As my dad would put that in terms of; “where are their consciences and morals!”

        Sister Joanne what you said here is so important because this is exactly what came out in this old classic film! “Someone who is trapped in a lifestyle that is harming them needs a rescuer more than a judge.” Dear Lord this Quaker family took this man in when injured and began the transition that God wanted for Quirt and Penelope was getting the wonderful strong good natured man she wanted and needed in her heart; as they fell in love immediately! It’s really so nice to see this kind of story today played out in an old classic film.

        Thank you for the genuine insightful kindness of heart to understand the kind of massive crushing hardship these agents of evil heaped upon me, making it much worse as I was no longer a young fella when this began making it a bigger strain on a person that isn’t a spring chicken anymore! I suppose my angst over it all could even be a bit like the character in this story I mention here, but, if I projected anger or hate or as the saying goes, “grinding an axe,” I would only be doing myself in, and it’s bad enough just living with the aftermath of having gone through years of unnecessary trauma and troubles that cut deeply; all due to others who are vicious and even wicked following only the “Ways of The World!” These are persons who are truly nefarious with no God in their hearts or enough mercy to fill a thimble. There are even worse pieces in this personal story that I won’t go into but I will say that what we saw with the fraudulent pandemic, this lack of humanity rising, I was getting a chunk of that a number of years before it happened to the world; like a precursor of the evil to come! I could have been gone a few times already because if it; but I know God helped me struggle on for some reason yet, as just living for living sake isn’t enough of a purposeful life; and of course being saved it imperative! So with God behind me and for me there must be more I need to do before I leave!

        Now I must quote this as it is the truth that anyone who believe or wants to believe needs to keep clearly front and center in their life.

        “Faith in Jesus and have received His Spirit are permanently sealed, as Paul told us, “In him [Christ] you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

        This is I think actually why I’m still here Sister Joanne, my faith from when I was a boy is there always, nothing is taking that from me, and I must be sealed, my Salvation was made long ago and God’s purpose for creating me is something only He can know fully, and my life has been and is in His hands like anyone’s, but, like my dad would mention to me, “we are being tested and life is a test!”

        “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (John 10:28-30)

        This brings to my mind immediately the following Scripture!

        “30And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified. 31What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, freely give us all things?” Romans 8:30-32

        Then I just thought about this older posting of mine which fits this discussion perfectly now Sister Joanne!

        I’ve learned as I’m sure many have that fear is the tool of the Devil and anything unholy that will use fear because evil is inherently weak having no power over children of the light and power of the Almighty. “Today too many people fear the things of the world or material loss; but they do not fear God! Many don’t even think He exists; rebelliousness.” Lucifer started that way! FEAR GOD.

        You mentioned The Catechism of the Catholic Church and I actually was searching for the previous link when I came upon this and because of the featured photo I took a look and sure enough Sister it mentions the Catechism which I insert the entire excerpt passage here for your convenience.

        The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.” (1035)

        The Catechism further states, “The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: ‘Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.’ By Michael W. Chapman

        Be strong in your faith in Jesus and on bent knee turn your heart completely over to Him.

        Additionally as I did this search for my older postings this came to mind instantly because of a very important conversation I had back just before Christmas 2019, and because you mentioned what I had written about false Christians or the Falling Away or Great Apostasy to come just before the End Time, I thought this might be good to insert here.

        The Faces of Evil
        We are seeing very prominent faces stand out this “Christmas Holiday Season” that are far removed from the “Spirit of Christmas,” and are in fact unholy being influenced by the forces of darkness right here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, America! This One Nation under God has been polluted and corrupted deep within its earthly seat of power by some of the most maligned human beings on earth whose lust for power and control was an attempt to gain absolute power which in turn became “absolute power corrupting absolutely;” and it did in fact blind them to the plain truth of how their quest and drunkenness has delivered them unto the beast and not their Almighty God. For them it started with “a touch of evil” that grew inside of them until its own thirst for another soul grew even stronger within taking over their will or ability to recognize the “simple plain truth!”

        One of these key political figures clamored to the world this week “I’m a Catholic,” just like another one of them has said on many occasions how he is a Catholic too, and he is a presidential candidate now; but one thing is for sure, neither of those two is a Catholic and they are indeed fake ones. There are so many fake ones around these days and in fact there are too many “nonbelievers or complete antichrists” among us, even those who use Christianity as a tool or front for vain ulterior purposes, wolves in sheep clothing if you will; some of us may even know them personally!

        Yes you and I know who I speak about and we witness this abomination by the Greatest Nation on earth, but we must all pray and look beyond all of this wickedness that is trying to overshadow our Great Nation under God and not allow us to clearly remember who this holiday is about; “the one true power, honor and glory which it is about, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” who will have the final say in everything in all of existence!

        All I can say is, all of you faithful please keep praying to our Heavenly Father who is holding back from pouring out His wrath, but make no mistake about it the truth is upon us, we have enough proof my faithful friends; the winds of truth and justice are coming for them and all the other deceivers!

        Stay in communion with the Holy Spirit by remaining faithfully vigilant in humble prayer and supplication for Him our Savior Jesus Christ, who loves us more than we can actually fully know and experience being outside of His glorious eternal kingdom; yet He made Himself one of us born of the virgin Mary His earthly mother, to prove without a doubt that we are here for one reason; which is that, through genuine humble faith on bent knee from the heart even if no larger than a mustard seed, that faith is the only other ingredient needed in our Father’s equation and plan for any of us to be united with Him in heaven for eternity.
        And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20

        So He was saying, “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and THE BIRDS OF THE AIR NESTED IN ITS BRANCHES.” Luke 13:18-19

        So my Sister Joanne I’m ending here precisely where you ended your wonderful commentary and it’s so fitting again because I see how it ties into exactly what the main theme of that Classic Film “The Angel and the Badman is about,” of how those Quaker Christians had the right idea and message to others that came into their lives; what you say here, “to love our neighbor as ourselves.” They surely did that!

        “You have some good self-evaluation questions about practicing righteousness, loving Jesus, testing everything in the light of Scripture, and ministering to the church (which is to say, the Body of Christ). The whole of my work and ministry, here on this blog, is to support the love of God and Christ, to live by the words and Word of God, to be filled with and walk in the Holy Spirit, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

        Thank you very much my Sister in Christ Joanne!
        God bless you and yours!
        Brother in Christ Jesus,

      4. Dear Brother in Christ, Lawrence, am so glad I waited until I had some quiet to read through your thoughts on repentance, on salvation, and on the goodness of our Lord. That sounds like a Holy Spirit experience, to watch that Jon Wayne movie, and to see the underlying scriptural meaning of it, and to see how God was is also speaking personally into your own life.

        That moment of truly putting down the old life, and picking up the new does feel just as risky as you described. It feels very vulnerable. But the Lord is there, and the Lord always blesses and empowers such choices, as you have experienced and lived to tell about.

        May our God continue to strengthen and encourage you as you keep faithful to the Savior and Lover of our souls.

        Grace and peace to you, your sister in Christ, Joanne

      5. Dear Sister/Professor in Christ Joanne, thank you for waiting and providing such a perfectly refined response to my awfully long dissertation comment; because of course I do realize how busy you are and just having this opportunity is so important to me that I can’t thank you enough!

        Yes I absolutely agree that God was again like many times speaking to me I know it for sure as a God Send to get me to see that movie and then be able to hone-in on this most vital lesson God is pointing out to me! I know is such a blessing for Him to love me this way and help me the many times He has in spite of my not always listening or putting myself through more havoc out of my own foolishness at times it’s so great that I’m still afforded this opportunity!

        I have to quote you again because I can’t think of anything else that could improve this crystalline and most precious jewel of a message to have you convey to me which is also I see clearly coming from God as a God Send!

        “That moment of truly putting down the old life, and picking up the new does feel just as risky as you described. It feels very vulnerable. But the Lord is there, and the Lord always blesses and empowers such choices, as you have experienced and lived to tell about.”

        The part about having “lived to tell about” I know is also for good reason, partly for me to grow more I’m pretty sure, but, also obviously to put to work what he has taught me through those trials, and only because there is still more for me to do for His will and purposes before it will be time for me to leave this world; and then hopefully join Him in heaven; I do hope and pray! Amen.

        May God also continue to enlighten you and have you serve him so beautifully as you do to convey such precise messages of paramount importance in all of your writings!

        I just decided to send this link of one of my older postings which I think have some relevance to this over all perspective and what is going on in this mixed up world presently because of the shift of humanity away from natural early living and into this digital artificial cyber space world. Again I know you are so busy so I don’t ever expect answers always or in the least not in any short term; only as a optional if there is time sort of thing is fine for me!

        Take care my Sister in Christ!
        Thank you again from my deepest heart and soul.

        Brother in Christ Lawrence

      6. Sister Joanne, Perseverance is the operative word! I know I send out some long commentaries and it may have been best to save it for the book; then send you a copy! But being a bit too impatient I just for with my feelings or ideas at the moment and just put it out there; the crazy world of the internet, a global cyber communication platform which even allows instant gratification; which is a double edged sword!
        So I do focus here on the basic underlying purpose and meaning contained herein!
        Thank you for that wonderful opportunity!
        God bless you.

        Brother Lawrence

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